Hello lovelies! With semester final exams being just a short time away, it's time to start studying my life away. College finals can be one of the most stressful/anxiety-causing things EVER! I'm going to give you some personal advice and a few tips and tricks that help me maintain my focus, be productive, and feel confident while taking an exam.
First things first, having a healthy snack while studying always keeps me motivated and refreshed. I mean seriously... what's better than good food?! Today I had this bright, beautiful fruit platter while studying some biomechanics (pineapple, mango, kiwi, passionfruit, oranges, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, grapes and a squeeze of fresh lime juice).
Healthy Study Snack Suggestions
Fresh fruit - either plain, in the form of a fruit boat, or a fruit platter like what I had today - is one of my favorite nutritious study snacks. A few other favorites are hummus with baked pita chips and veggies, roasted chickpeas, Greek yogurt with granola, chia pudding, a smoothie bowl, and infused water, all of which are super simple and easy to whip up! I like to refer to these as "brain foods" because they'll power up your body for high performance and will keep you energized throughout your study session.
Tips, Tricks & Advice
- Be good to your body!
Make sure you're hydrated and drinking enough water, nourish your body with nutritious foods, and get plenty of sleep. If you plan on spending 48 hours straight in the library (gosh those are the worst), make sure that you're not depriving your body of the nourishment it needs to function properly. Although getting sleep during finals "crunch time" may seem nearly impossible, try your very best to give your brain some time to recuperate.
- Stay organized!
One of the easiest ways to make the most of a studying experience is by being organized. Before I begin to study or work on a certain assignment, I always make sure I have everything I need and know exactly what is it that must be accomplished. Some of things I always make sure I have out and ready to go are:
- Index cards
- Pens, pencils, and/or highlighters
- Calculator (if necessary)
- Sticky notes
- Necessary study tools open on my laptop (powerpoints, blackboard, etc.)
Staying organized always makes me feel refreshed, on top of everything, and ready to accomplish the task at hand.
- Free yourself from distractions!
I'm sure almost all of us are guilty of the whole "one minute to get on Instagram really quickly" turning into "scrolling through 7 hours worth of missed posts and seeing someone cool on the explore page that causes you to stalk all 683 of their photos." Before you know it, you've wasted 30 minutes of precious studying time. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr can all wait. Although I know it can be soooo hard, try to stay on task and avoid opening up a new tab to get on social media or another site that's not related to your study material.
- Find a space where you can be productive!
Find a place where you can study and achieve maximum productivity. Everyone has different preferences, so study somewhere that works for you. Sometimes I like to study on a silent floor at the library, sometimes I like to study at home so I can burn a candle or two, be comfy in my PJs, and have some soft music playing, and other times I like to study outside in the fresh air and sunshine. If you're crazy siblings are at home or all of your best friends are at the library, there's a high possibility that they may serve as a distraction to you. Just try to make a smart decision of where the best place would be to have the most optimal study session possible.
- Don't just memorize it - LEARN IT!
If you try to simply memorize a bunch of information for an exam or any other kind of graded assessment, you're likely going to overload your brain with wayyy more than it can handle. Instead of just aiming to memorize the information you are studying, dig a little bit deeper and apply the information conceptually so you can actually comprehend it. With simple memorization, we have a psychological tendency to only remember what "sticks out" to us. However, if you take it out of context and apply it to a real-life person, place, thing, equation, idea, etc. then you will be much more likely to remember it better and able to recall it at a later date.
Come up with an acronym.
Come up with an acronym that makes sense and applies to the material.
Make your own mock exam questions and test yourself.
Create practice exam questions that will make you think outside of the box and familiarize you even further with the material.
Do what I like to call a "brain dump."
Let's say you're studying for an anatomy exam and you're having a hard time understanding the digestive system. Write down everything you DO know and keep writing information until you eventually run out of things to record - which for this particular subject would include all of the organs, enzymes, different processes, pathways, etc. Review the important pieces of information that you left out and try to steer your focus towards those.
Study with a group.
If there's a certain concept that you simply just cannot grasp, studying with others may help you see it from a different point of view to interpret it better.
Rewrite your notes.
Repetition is helpful for remembering tough information. This is especially useful for visual learners because once you've written notes yourself that may have previously been in a textbook or online, you're using your own motor skills to review it.
Make study boards.
One thing I've found to work wonders for me is making study boards using a simple white poster board. Anatomy was one of the toughest (but my favorite) courses I've taken so far in college, so I literally devoted my entire life to studying for it for a semester. These are examples of some of the boards I made and I hung them up in my room. For each new set of information, I would do new boards with the material pertaining to the chapters that would be on my next exam. My room was covered in them - no lie, ceiling to floor. I also made other random things like flowcharts (pictured on the right) charts that were so so so helpful. And because they were all over my room, I was constantly exposed to the information and eventually knew it like the back of my hand.
This is just some personal advice and a few methods that I have found to be very helpful for me. Try not to stress yourself out, remain positive, and approach studying with an open mind. To everyone that's getting ready to take semester final exams, good luck and happy studying!